Internet Security Services
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Internet Security? Why bother?
The internet connects many, many computers so that they can share information and processing power. When you "go online" (=use the internet) your computer joins the connected community of machines. Unless precautions are taken by you, you are offering the use of your machine and its data to other internet users while you are reading email, looking at sites, buying things, and otherwise taking advantage of the wonderful 'net. This use by others is typically invisible; it does not change what your screen displays.
Computers are efficient but gullible. They can be told to damage their owner's files, spy on their owner and report to an outside party via the Internet, or to launch an attack on another machine. Malicious programs now exist to do all of these things.
Here are some of the major topics to be concerned about. 1) Some files (programs, pictures, articles) that are available for download carry invisible unwanted malicious program baggage. 2) Some files that are attached to email messages are malicious programs. Some emails contain a malicious program within the message. 3) Some web pages attempt to spy on you or your machine, or to install a malicious program, when the page is viewed. 4) Your computer may accept commands from other users directly over the net. If this occurs, it may be used to launch an attack on a third party's machine. Another possibility is vandalism of your data. 5) Your computer may accept files from other users directly over the net. 6) Your computer may deliver files to other users directly over the net.
The possibilities range from inconvenient to serious.
What should I do?
Fortunately, a large part of the risk can be dealt with by two pieces of software: a virus checker (which looks for malicious programs) and a firewall (which controls which requests from the Internet are honored, and which programs on your own machine are allowed to use the Internet).
There are also ways to reduce your risk by choosing a less-attacked browser (NOT Microsoft's Internet Explorer) and a less-attacked email program (NOT Microsoft's Outlook Express), and by setting options in your browser, email program and operating system with security in mind.
Once your security software is in place and configured, you will need to allow a few minutes every couple of weeks to update your virus checker's knowledge of viruses. As new malicious programs are recognised, the makers of virus checkers release updates to cope with them.
"But I don't have the time!" Want help?
We can choose, load, and configure your net software, set your ports to "stealth", set up your machine to resist attack, and document future care of the security system. We can provide user training and ongoing support.
$43/hr, 1 hour minimum, initial consultation no charge.
There are lots of good sites on the 'net with information about securing a Windows machine. Good, inexpensive-or-free up-to-date security software is available for download from trusted sites.
Our favorite firewall is ZoneAlarm, free for personal use, inexpensive for businesses, at http://www.zonelabs.com/.
We recommend the eTrust EZ Antivirus (successor to InnoculateIT) virus checker, cheap ($19.95) at http://www2.my-etrust.com/. Click on purchase center (with cookies turned on) to buy.
Steve Gibson's site, https://grc.com/default.htm, has a port checker and lots of information. Scroll down the menu page and click on "ShieldsUP!" Steve Gibson is someone I trust on this subject, but I also think he tends to be alarmist.
He has lots of information about configuring Windows 95/98 and NT for security.
There are also fascinating analyses of Internet nastywork available on his site.
^^^Link to that site goes here. Sorry, not yet active^^^ tests your machine's willingness to run Java Script and Visual Basic Script.
This exciting topic is explored by both the good guys and the bad guys, in the usenet group ^^^Usenet group name goes here^^^. Reading their posts is like being a reporter in the trenches during a war. It's up to you to figure out who are the heroes and who the stuffed shirts, who is just clueless, and who is a nasty trying to deceive...
Please be a good net citizen
Don't let the nasties use your machine to cause problems for others.
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